b'The Importance of Horses in the 14th CenturyKate PrattAt the time of Domesday Book, manors such aspalfrey was a rouncy, which was a fairly standard Bishop Wilton were ploughed with oxen; land wasriding horse. A hobby horse was a small breed measured in oxgangs or bovates, both terms basedoriginally from Irelanda Light Infantry soldier who on the yearly amount that could be achieved with arode such a horse was known as a hobelar. Horses team of oxen. Ox carts were in use to haul loads onbred for agricultural use were also needed for different the muddy or rocky roadways. Horses were ridden,purposes, so there were carthorses, packhorses but scarcely in use as draught animals.and general workhorses which were known either Over the next two centuries usage began toas stots or affers. To understand the price range, in change: manorial estates still preferred to use oxenabout 1300 an ordinary affer would cost about 2s 6d, in the main, but peasant farmers saw advantagesa riding horse would cost 24 times as much, a good in using horses in plough teamsthough mainly forpalfrey 400 times as much and a good warhorse 800 harrowing - and as draught animals. The argumenttimes as much.was largely a financial one, but also based on theIn the 1298 Inventory for the Manor of Wilton (see versatility of the horse. Oxen were considered moreLocal History Bulletin 11), the possessions of the economical to own, for several reasons: they wereTreasurer of York were detailed, including 26 best cheaper to feed, had fewer diseases, were steadierploughing oxen, 3 cart-mares with one little foal, 3 than horses, and could be eaten when too old forcart-horses which can be ridden when necessary, of work. Although horsemeat was not normally eaten,which onehas always carried a litter. A horse litter, the carcase was well used, providing animal food,at its most basic, was a similar idea to a stretcher, hide, horsehair and glue from the hooves.being a cloth hung between 2 poles, carried by and The cost of keeping a horse was high. Theirbetween 2 horses in line; at its grandest it was an normal diet included oats, hay, beans, pease andornate, enclosed box carried by 4 horses. This would straw. The cost of housing and feeding a good horsebe very much a job for pacing horses, but they would (including half a basket of oats a day) in 1314-15have to be specifically trained. People of importance, varied according to season from 6d to 7d a day such as the Archbishop who had to travel many miles and this at a time when a stable-lad would not receiveon most days, would find it more restful to travel by more than 2d a day, or a skilled mason more thanlitter. In 1301 Archbishop Thomas of Corbridge, while 4d. 1Although oxen were fed with oats, they only gotvisiting the Palace at Wilton, wrote a letter asking for a quarter of the amount given to a draught horse, thehelp in finding a man to train ambling horses for him 2 . rest of their fodder being hay, whatever winter grazingWhen Archbishop William Melton visited Bolton there was, chaff, straw and possibly holly leaves. Priory in West Yorkshire in 1321, the accounts reveal The greater versatility of the horse is reflectedwhat an expensive business it was to give hospitality in the fact that they were being bred for specificto such a large entouragethe visit cost the Priory purposes, and were known by different termsover 80, including 15 quarters 5 bushels of oats in according to their functions. These functions can befodder and bran for their horses and dogs 3 . In the divided into four main classes, military, hunting, ridinglight of an earlier calculation (by Walter of Henley, a and agricultural. thirteenth century writer on agriculture) that horses At the top end of the price range was the militaryneed a quarter of a bushel of oats each per night, this warhorse, or destrier, follower by the courser whichmeans that the Archbishops entourage consisted of was specifically for hunting. The preferred horse forup to 60 horses.riding was a palfrey, which was not exceptionallyIn view of this information, it may be time to look strong but was elegant and easy to ride. Within thisanew at the park which surrounded the Archbishops category were specially trained horses called variouslyPalace at Bishop Wilton. As Davis 4so nicely puts it, a pacing horses, trotters or amblers, which movedpark surrounded by hedges or fences, was a place both left feet forward together, followed by both rightwhere one could park animals in the same way as feet, thus giving a very smooth and comfortable ride.nowadays we park our cars. The Royal stud owned Hackneys made their appearance in the 14th centurymany horses and was always looking for somewhere as a type of pacing horse. Slightly cheaper than ato keep them; in this area Burstwick, Howden, Selby 1R H C Davis: The Medieval Warhorse: Origin, Development and Redevelopment (Thames and Hudson, 1989) p 442Register of Archbishop Thomas of Corbridge, Surtees Society, 19253Ian Kershaw: Bolton Priory. The Economy of a Northern Monastery 1286-1325 (OUP 1973)4op cit.256 BULLETIN 14'